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Movie Review: Warm Bodies (2013)

Warm Bodies Movie Review

Warm Bodies is a film designed to cure us of the zombie/vampire fantasy rut we’ve recently fallen into with Hollywood’s recent offerings (looking at you Twilight). Regrettably its execution ends up as half-baked as the rest, despite an excellent initial premise. Nicholas Hoult stars as R, an unhappy young zombie who is capable of conscious thought and feelings, most of which he acquires through eating the brains of the recently deceased.

The film goes downhill from here however, quickly setting a wishy-washy tone of love cures all which would be fine if it had a little more to offer besides this. Isaac Marion’s story is a rehashing of Romeo and Juliet for the technology addicted new generation and whilst it took me longer than it should have to realise (I clicked at the balcony scene. Yes, there’s a balcony scene) I really wish it wasn’t and is frankly the primary reason Warm Bodies fails. Given a little more originality and less reliance on clichés and tropes this film could have proved truly enjoyable and made much more of an impact than it did.

In terms of acting, there’s relatively little to be said, being a zombie movie and all. Hoult spends much of his time shuffling and grunting about the screen, however he does have moments of inconsistency where he’s not quite sure of the degree to which he should be grunting and even the accent in which he should be speaking. Co-star Teresa Palmer is the low budget Kristen Stewart lookalike that plays love interest Julie who proves to be pretty unlikeable on the whole coming across as self-possessed and annoying, but that may be down to the character and not a judgment on her acting. Rob Corddry is criminally underused in this picture, his trademark wit being constrained by the fact he’s playing a zombie. That said he still manages to provide some of the few genuine laughs in great style. John Malkovich also fails to get nearly as much screen time as he deserves, providing a solid performance as Julie’s father and leader of the last men.

The soundtrack to Warm Bodies is fantastic, but heavily over-used and mixed so loud you can’t really tell much of what else is going on. It seems every other scene is a faux inspirational montage between R and Julie. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when my favourite songs pop up in movies but the way in which they are used in this seems to cheapen the effect somewhat. There’s a musical montage for every emotion, be it Springsteen, Bob Dylan or Bon Iver.

What starts out as brilliantly witty with a fascinating concept, quickly gives way to the same old spiel with more music than script. Whilst not completely unentertaining, Warm Bodies fails to come to life in a meaningful way, trying to master many things but accomplishing few of them.

Rating: 2/4

New Trailer: As I Lay Dying, James Franco’s debut directorial effort.

James Franco is on fire this year. This will be his fourth film and directorial debut and we’re only half way through May! Happily, As I Lay Dying marks a return back to his dramatic roles and will hopefully set a trend for him taking on a number of more serious parts. Not that I don’t thoroughly enjoy his comedy, I’m super excited for This Is The End, but it’d be nice to see another 127 Hours-calibre performance. In addition to starring and directing this film, Franco is also producing it and wrote the screenplay, I guess he really likes this novel.

Based on William Faulkner’s novel of the same name, As I Lay Dying is the story of a family travelling to Jefferson to put their dying mother to rest. Beyond that, I can’t really tell what’s going to happen except a vast amount of Jeff Bridges’ True Grit-style mumbling exemplified by a child who has a nice little speech which I can’t decipher a word of.
Overall it looks to be a solid film featuring a strong cast. Alongside Franco will be Tim Blake Nelson, Tom Hardy look-alike Logan Marshall-Green, Richard Jenkins (rumoured) and in what may be his first dramatic role ever, Danny McBride(?)!

Now you’ve seen the trailer, tell me in the comments what you think that child was saying. Seriously.

A Brief Update

I've been absent, I apologise. Like many bloggers, when I started out I thought to myself "Yeah I'll do this forever! I won't be one of those guys who give up after a few months, no! One day I'll be one of the most prolific reviewers on the internet."

Well, it didn't happen. I ended up having simply too much to do, and barely any time to even watch a movie. See, I recently started a new job, having been unemployed whilst I started The Beard Review and working 40 hour weeks after an extensive period of doing nothing makes a man sleepy, all the time!

I work in digital marketing though, and it's made me realise how much I miss my blog, and how damned lucrative they can be! Mostly it's that I miss the blog though, honest.

So here I am, I'm back! Got a new look for the blog which is still a work in progress, but it's got me excited and my aim is to bring out a review for you all at least once a week.

In addition to that, I'll strive to keep up to date with the news and at the very least bring you the hottest trailers of the week. In the meantime, thanks for reading!

Also, you can now Follow my blog with Bloglovin if you want to!

Movie Review: Lincoln (2012)

Lincoln (2012), Movie Review, Daniel Day-Lewis, Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg’s latest offering is a 2 and a half hour journey through the beautifully acted yet cumbersome tale of President Abraham Lincoln’s struggle to pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. I’m not really sure how to synopsise historical events in a meaningful way as most people already know what happened, so I’ll say that Lincoln focuses on the 16th President’s last few months near the end of the civil war as he attempts to reconstruct a broken nation.

Lincoln is a good movie but where it fails, from my point of view, is that it’s so very dense. There is almost no action in Lincoln, save the opening scenes and from then the movie fluctuates between political arguments, lengthy speeches, family upsets and back to lengthy speeches. Similarly, as a reserved Englishman it’s hard to get overly excited by the American back-patting on display here. Upon watching a second time, however, I realised that this movie requires a certain mood to enjoy, as with many movies. Given the right mood, this movie is downright enthralling.

Lincoln (2012), Movie Review, Daniel Day-Lewis, Steven Spielberg

Across the board, the acting in Lincoln is superb. Daniel Day-Lewis is fully worthy of his Oscar Nomination, if not the win. As we’ve come to expect from him he throws himself into the role of Lincoln with such immersion and accuracy, it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the part. In fact after the movie I was reading up about Lincoln himself for this review and found myself reading excerpts of speeches in the manner Day-Lewis performed them. Sally Field plays Mary Todd Lincoln in a very believable manner; she’s powerful, formidable and fragile all at the same time, if a little grating on occasion. Two of the standout performances for me were those of John Hawkes and Michael Stuhlbarg as Robert Latham and George Yeaman respectively. Both actors are relative unknowns but big favourites of mine for their diverse wealth of talent, be it on television or the silver screen.

Whilst Lincoln can be slow, it can offer a mesmerising and uniquely engaging experience once you allow yourself to be drawn in. If for no other reason than seeing how Daniel Day-Lewis is able to transform himself yet again, you should see this film to witness one of the greatest actors in history playing one of the greatest men in history. 

Rating: 3/4

What did you think of Lincoln? Will it take Best Picture at the Oscars? Or is it simply another piece of American self-loving to take over this awards season? Let me know in the comment section below.

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Movie Review: Les Misérables (2012)

Movie Review Les Misérables (2012)

To most, Les Misérables needs little introduction but for those like me who perhaps aren’t fans of musicals, Tom Hooper brings us his latest movie epic in the form of the longest running, most famous musical ever. The story of Les Misérables is of one Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a man convicted for having stolen a loaf of bread who ends up spending 19 years in prison. He isn’t the smartest of men when we first find him and he promptly breaks his parole, causing his parole officer and prison tormentor Javert (Russell Crowe) to relentlessly hunt him. Events turn and Jean Valjean becomes a righteous man who decides to adopt and care for the daughter of the unfortunate factory worker Fantine (Anne Hathaway) while civil unrest rages in France.

As implied by the name, this film is a pretty dour affair with almost three hours of people tearfully singing through some of the worst experiences imaginable. As such it’s a very powerful and emotional film: the friend I was watching it with cried no less than four times. As a music lover, I was blown away by some of the performances, particularly the triumphant final 2 minutes in which the whole cast got together and sang “Do You Hear the People Sing” which I found very rousing and even brought a lump to my throat. Visually, Les Misérables is spectacular. Whoever was in charge of set design, and even the people in the CGI room, did a fantastic job of portraying both the grandeur and squalor of 19th Century France. From the formidable warship docks to the rain drenched slums and from the grand open squares of Paris to the literal blood bath of the barricade, the entire picture is fully immersive for the viewer in terms of visuals.

Russell Crowe, Les Misérables (2012) Movie Review

Overall I felt the cast worked very well. The child actors in particular were a delight to watch and did an excellent job in my opinion. Of all the cast Anne Hathaway has to be the standout though, her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” was heart-breaking and watching her sell her body, her teeth and her hair, which actually happened as it’s shown in the film is similarly devastating. Hugh Jackman too is solid as Jean Valjean and Amanda Seyfried was a pleasant surprise too, it seems this year may be her year. Somewhat controversially, I very much enjoyed Russell Crowe’s performance. Let me be clear: I don’t think he’s a particularly brilliant singer, but I don’t think he’s a terrible singer either like many have said. In fact I think it’s his lack of singing talent/ experience which sold it for me. He sings in a straightforward no-frills manner which, after two and a half hours of vocal Olympics, was very refreshing for me and as a result, when I walked out of the cinema it was his songs which stuck most in my head.

There was something about Les Misérables that left me unperturbed though. As previously mentioned I’m not a huge fan of musicals so that may be the primary reason, but it’s an awfully long film and in three hours of cinema there are only around four spoken sentences which I’m not quite used to. This is especially so when much of the sung conversation seems to be sung purely for the sake of singing. They aren’t particularly memorable tunes yet trivial conversations are sung with gusto and lashings of vibrato which seem slightly unnecessary to me. There was also a tendency to focus in really close to the actors faces when they were singing; this is only really a minor complaint but particularly in the case of the vibrato face-shaking Eddie Redmayne it could be pretty alarming at times. I also felt the Thénardiers were very out of place in this film and didn't really fit the tone with their Cockney almost slapstick humour. 

All in all though, I’d recommend this film; there are moments in it when I got chills from some of the vocal performances, even during the more upbeat all-together pieces. It’s a timeless story told by a great cast and a talented director and well worth a watch. What did you think? Did you hate Russell Crowe? Hate me for not liking musicals? Let me know in the comments!

Rating: 3/4

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Movie Review: Argo (2012)

Argo 2012 Movie Review, Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston

Argo is a terrible movie. A complete rip-off of Star Wars with a terrible story and it should have never been put into production. Good job the Iranians didn’t know that! Our 2012 Argo is actually a work of art, telling the true story of how a CIA exfiltration expert successfully evacuated six American citizens trapped in Iran during the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1980. 

Ben Affleck is rapidly becoming a master of all trades. His 2007 acclaimed directorial debut Gone Baby Gone and 2010’s The Town grabbed the attention of many critics and awarding bodies, with both films being Oscar Nominees. At the time of writing, Argo is also widely predicted to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars and it’s easy to see why. With Argo, Ben Affleck managed to create a film which is remarkably funny in certain places and so tense your stomach knots up in others. The tension he creates is magnificent: it isn’t created through explosions and gun fights, but through timing and emotional investment. The feelings of trepidation we experience in Argo are proof of Affleck’s craftsmanship as a director, if only for the sole reason that it’s a true story and we know how it ends! 

We all know that Ben Affleck is a talented actor and writer and it’s good to see that taking on the director’s mantle doesn’t detract from that, turning in a solid, thoughtful performance as Tony Mendez. Comedic highlights are provided by John Goodman and Alan Arkin playing John Chambers and Lester Siegel respectively as the Hollywood insiders who are masterminding the fake Argo. Their scathing commentary on the business of Hollywood itself in particular is both accurate and hilarious. As ever I’m blown away by Bryan Cranston, he’s one of my favourite actors right now and despite only having a supporting role, his display of diverse talent was a pleasure to watch. The entire ensemble cast work beautifully together. Every character in Argo is played convincingly and faithfully and it shows in the end credits with comparisons between the cast and their real life counterparts. 

Argo is a gripping, intense and finely crafted film which is thoroughly deserving of the accolades it’s already received and will undoubtedly be receiving in January. The film will hold you in its grasp right until its thrilling, triumphant conclusion with its stylised blend of hilarity and exhilaration. I strongly suggest you go see it the first chance you get.

Rating: 4/4

What did you think of Argo? Let me know in the comments down below.
Also, have a wonderful Christmas!

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New Trailer: The Place Beyond The Pines, starring Ryan Gosling

Well this is exciting. The man that basically everyone in the world has a crush on, female or not, and man who can do no wrong, Ryan Gosling will be returning to our screens for The Place Beyond The Pines. Early festival audiences have widely praised this movie, saying it perfectly blends the crime genre with drama and tells a moving story of two new fathers.

The Place Beyond The Pines sees Gosling returning to work with previous collaborator, champion of emotionally disturbing indie dramas, Derek Cianfrance who directed 2010's Blue Valentine. Gosling seems to almost reprise his role from Drive but has more lines and robs more banks. He appears to be a total ruffian, struggling heavily with his life and drastically needing a change of course (and clothes). Co-star Bradley Cooper plays a squeaky clean son-of-a-judge rookie cop who is chasing Gosling down.

Beyond The Pines features what appears to an all-star cast, starring not only Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper but Eva Mendes and Ray Liotta too. This movie will undoubtedly draw a number of comparisons to 2011's Drive, but frankly that film was so good that comparisons to it can only be a good thing.

The Place Beyond The Pines opens on 12th April 2013 in the UK and 29th March in the US, will you be watching it? Let me know in the comments!